Around half of mosques and Muslim centres in Britain have been subjected to Islamophobic attacks since 9/11, academics have warned as the far-right English Defence League prepares to march to the south-London scene of Drummer Lee Rigby’s murder. The figures are highlighted in a report which also found that the number of anti-Islamic attacks increased by as much as tenfold in the days following the Woolwich attack.
Despite the warning signs, a senior Government adviser told The Independent that there remains a “lack of political will” to take on the rise of Islamophobic attacks in Britain. The adviser, who did not want to be named, said that attempts to “tackle this issue – even before Woolwich – struggled to attract buy-in,” with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, identified as the primary source of frustration.
Professor Nigel Copsey, of Teesside University, the author of the new report which showed that between 40 and 60 per cent of mosques and other Islamic centres (around 700) had been targeted since 9/11 – said: “There has undoubtedly been a spike in anti-Muslim incidents since the Woolwich murder. An obvious concern now is whether the number of hate crime incidents return to ‘normal’ levels or whether Woolwich has been a game-changer in terms of increasing the underlying incidence of anti-Muslim hate over the longer term.”
But Dr Matthew Goodwin, associate fellow at Chatham House and an expert on extremist groups said that “the broader picture is more positive than we think. Young people are more at ease accepting Muslims in society.” A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “There is no place for anti-Muslim hatred or any kind of hatred in Britain, and we are committed to tackling this unacceptable scourge.”